Throughout our lifetime, our bones are continually being built up and broken down and as the supportive framework for our body. Without them we would be little more than rag dolls. Here’s how you should take care of them.
1. The calcium conundrum
About 99 per cent of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our bones and our teeth. Although calcium is crucial in maintaining and building bone strength, it’s only part of the overall picture since there are at least 19 other essential nutrients needed in the process. Vitamin D, which the body gets when exposed to natural sunlight is key to the absorption of calcium. Magnesium and vitamin K are also considered essential.
Too much calcium can actually be adverse to bone health. London-based nutritionist Marisa Peer suggests that your daily calcium intake should be restricted to a small cup of milk. Two or more glasses leads to a build up of acidic substances harmful for the bones. Peer also points out that the countries with the highest dairy consumption — Holland, Sweden and the U.S. — have the highest number of bone fractures.
2. Vegetables, sunshine & nuts
“It all comes down to green vegetables, sunshine and nuts,” says Peer. “Think about cows, our primary source of calcium, all they do is eat grass.”
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach are full of vitamin K, which helps with calcium regulation and bone formation. Oily fish, especially those with small bones such as sardines and salmon are full of vitamin D, which will help absorb calcium.
Beans, oats, sesame and pumpkin seeds are all excellent choices, a good trick is to replace your daily butter spread with sesame seed paste, Tahini.
Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are a great source of Vitamin K and magnesium, but the real wonder food in terms of nutrients is the brazil nut.
3. Big boned
Celebrity trainer James Duigan believes one of the worst things for bone health is lack of physical activity. Weight bearing exercises or resistance work that place some stress on the bones will improve strength and density. Your body, forced to adapt under exercises such as running, dancing, tennis or weight lifting, builds stronger, denser bone.
As a low impact sport, swimming does not carry any weight-bearing benefit. Water supports the body, and therefore bones, creating no buildup of bone strength. Duigan believes in mixing up these exercises in order to get the most out of every bone and muscle. He says: “Anything that loads the body is great. Think squats, lunges, push ups and chin ups.”